The Supreme Court's decision to dismiss California's Proposition 8 appeal Wednesday threatens to "gut the power of the federal government" and prevent policymakers from declaring gay marriage the law in all 50 states. It's a travesty for MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry who spoke up yesterday, interrupting the "celebratory" atmosphere at the network following the rulings.
“As much as those of us who are allies of this movement, and those of us how’ve been working hard on the question of marriage equality would like to read this in the broadest sense,” Harris-Perry said. “What they did, all week long – from the beginning to the end of this week so far – is to gut the power of the federal government.”
Harris-Perry's conclusion is right, as the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein notes. There's a silver lining for limited-government conservatives:
The end result is that gay marriage will be legal in California, but not automatically legal in every state. The federal government will have to recognize gay marriages in states that have made it legal, but states that still oppose gay marriage will not have to recognize out of state gay marriages. (i.e., a gay couple from Alabama couldn’t get married in California and force their home state to recognize the marriage.) Thus, unlike Roe v. Wade, in which the Court imposed its view of abortion on all states, this will allow the gay marriage debate to play out on a state by state basis.
In contrast, Harris-Perry -- a proud progressive -- would prefer the federal government have the authority to force gay marriage as the law of the land, stripping states of their individual opinions on the subject.
Thank goodness for federalism.